I am infected with an incurable tendency to play with words. I was statistically at risk for this affliction after forty-two years of exposure to my father's incessant punning. In writing Divinity in Disguise, however, I discovered that wordplay can be a surprising source of grace. Even changing one comma in a sentence can lead the mind down a different path than it thought it was traveling.
Let's play with Thanksgiving. Ordinarily we mentally reverse the word to giving thanks; that is what this purest of holidays is all about. What if we tried it this way: Thanks.Giving ? What's that period doing in there? It looks like something we might follow with @gmail.com. Perhaps the period could represent that the holiday is a chance to cease what Thoreau called our "incessant business." On Thanks.Giving we pause to practice "don't just do something, sit there." We pause to gather our scattered minds and loved ones in gratitude. And what if giving is what naturally follows pausing to be grateful? Genuine giving is not a should of Christianity or any other religion. What the world most needs for us to give can flow naturally from that for which we feel deep gratitude and enthusiasm.
Contemporary Presbyterian minister and writer Frederick Buechner has put it this way:
"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
That intersection is a rich place to live! So much, however, in the gravitational field of our own habit energies and in the cultural brine in which we soak can block us from finding it. It's as if the soul has a GPS that wants to guide us to that intersection, but we keep believing other routes will get us where we long to go. Every time we make a turn away from Buechner's intersection of deep gladness and deep hunger, the soul's GPS whispers: "recalculating...."
May we have moments this Thanksgiving of true pause to be aware of the deep gladnesses in our lives--the thanks that can guide our giving.